Building A Scarecrow

Scarecrow at a festival in New Jersey

A scarecrow is a decoy or mannequin usually in the shape of a human. It is dressed in old clothes and placed in gardens or open fields to discourage birds such as crows or sparrows from feeding on recently sown seed and growing crops.

As its name suggests, it’s supposed to scare away crows from the field or garden.
Mostly they're for decoration, I think.

The first scarecrows in recorded history were made by the Egyptians along the Nile River to protect wheat fields from flocks of quail.  
Egyptian farmers put wooden frames in their fields and covered them with nets.  The farmers hid in the fields and scared the quail into the nets. 

One of the more famous scarecrows and one of my favorites is the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.

Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  "If I only had a brain"

Most bird problems do not have a simple solution that works well for every bird, but here are a few suggestions. 

Besides building a scarecrow other methods you might try include:
  • Bird netting
  • Flags
  • Streamers
  • Balloons
  • Aluminum pie plates
  • Noisemakers  

One of the most amazing Scarecrows I have ever seen and
a Blue Ribbon winner at the Darke County Fair in Greenville, Ohio

Building a Basic Garden Scarecrow

What you’ll need:
  1. 2 poles or 2 pieces of 2 x 4’s
  2. Wire, twine or screws
  3. Empty milk jug or pillow case
  4. Clothing and/or decorations
Scarecrow in motion; frame built with 2 x 4's and drywall screws

Inside most traditional scarecrows is a wooden cross, (sometimes a T shape) which is driven into the ground or propped against a support.

You will need two poles or 2 - 2 x 4’s, one cut about 5 to 6 feet long, the other about 2 to 3 feet long.  Secure the two poles or boards together to make a cross shape using twine or screw them together.

The longer pole is the body, while the shorter pole becomes the shoulders.

Use an empty milk jug as the head, or stuff an old pillowcase and slide onto the top post of the wooden cross.

Cut milk jug to fit the top post 

Another idea is to use an old broom or a pumpkin as the head.  Tie or secure the head you choose into place. Add a rag mop for hair, a hat, scarf, or a mask.

Milk jug covered with pillow case 
and a ski mask.

Use old clothing, a Halloween costume or material to dress the scarecrow.

Put a shirt on the shorter shoulder pole, and then add pants or a skirt.  To secure the pants to the shirt use safety pins or sew into place.  If desired, stuff the scarecrow to give him a more life-like appearance.

Scarecrow Stuffing: 

  • Straw or hay
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Styrofoam peanuts
  • Old clothes or socks
  • Plastic bags or newspaper

You can add boots or shoes, decorations, hats or other accessories.  I have my scarecrow sometimes holding a rake or even a watering can. 
Hands can be gloves, garden tools, sticks or anything really. 


If you want a scarecrow that appears to be in motion, as I made mine, cut 2 x 4's to make more of a human figure, with arms and legs in the position you wish your scarecrow to be in.  I chose a running screaming scarecrow, closer to my own behavior in the garden when I spot a varmint eating my produce!
With an added mask and wardrobe change, this scarecrow can also double as a Halloween decoration.

Banging Flashy Scarecrow:

Highly reflective aluminum pie pans work great to frighten birds from the garden.   Each time the wind blows they are noisy, sparkle, clang and reflect the sun confusing many varmints.
I have been using this scare device for a few years and it really works! 

Reflective Pie Pan Scarecrow

What you’ll need:
  1. Several shiny aluminum pie pans
  2. Wire or string
  3. Sheppard’s hook or long pole
  4. Bright colored streamers or strings (optional)

Punch holes into the pie pans, one along the top and one along the bottom.
Wire or tie the pie pans together to make a string of pans.
Hang the pie pan string from the Shepard's hook or pole and place in the garden. 
Add strips or pieces of brightly colored streamers, strings or pieces of aluminum foil.

Scarecrow for fall decorating

Front porch Sitting Scarecrow

This scarecrow I came up with for fall decorating.  I did not have a pattern or anything to follow so I just cut the pieces out as I went.  Try to picture a human form in a sitting position and fashion the scarecrow from that image. Don't worry about being exact or making it perfect.

What you’ll need:
  1. Odd and ends of 2 x 4's
  2. Screws, bolts and nuts
  3. A scarecrow head, (make one or purchase one).
  4. Clothing, shoes, gloves, fall decorations

Cut the 2 x 4’s into desired lengths, making arms, legs and a body.  I used my own arm and leg length to determine the exact sizes. It does not have to be perfect because clothes will cover the mistakes! Yea!

Scrap wood used for the scarecrow body

Side view, two layers of leg wood for body support.

To make arms that are movable use bolts and washers for free range of motion. Otherwise use drywall screws to secure the parts together.  I am a fan of drywall screws!

Washers in front of, between and behind for movable arm parts.

Back view of arm with bolt and washers used for movable parts

Position scarecrow in a chair or on a bench on the front porch.  Dress and decorate as desired with fall clothing, pumpkins and fall decorations.
Using the same idea of a cross form or base, you can also make other Fall or Halloween figures.  Here is a witch made from a cross form, using an old black dress for clothing.

A Halloween witch using the cross shape as a base


  • Purchase a scarecrow head at a local craft show (which is what I did for the sitting scarecrow and the witch)
  • Shop second hand stores, thrift stores or yard sales for clothing.
  • Scarecrows are limited only by your imagination. 

Scarecrow Costume
I love scarecrows so one year I even made a scarecrow costume for my daughter Jami when she was in her early teens.  Here is a photo of her daughter, my granddaughter Kelsey, wearing that same costume in 2010.
My grand daughter Kelsey in a Scarecrow costume

There are numerous books about scarecrows, how to make them, and stories with a scarecrow as the main character.  One of my favorites is:

"Scarecrows:  Making harvest figures and other yard folks"
by Felder Rushing

I still have lots of summer projects I want to finish but am starting to look forward to chilly evenings, campfires, warm stew and hot cocoa. 


Other Fall Posts

The Mothman Festival

Fall Barn Party

Mini Pecan Pies


  1. Fun pictures! I have never really made a scarecrow when I think about it. Of course I like the witch.

  2. Beverly: Nothing says Autumn more to me than scarecrows and pumpkins! And I don't think a garden is complete without a homemade "scare crows" in it.
    And thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. AnonymousJuly 02, 2014

    What's up? Just wanted to tell you I like this blog post. Keep on posting!

  4. I like all of the scarecrow ideaѕ you've offered on youг post. They're really cool and will most certainly work. Nonetheless, I feel the post's instructions are too quick for beginners. Could you please prolong the directions a little or give more details? Thanks

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog! First I need to say that the standing (running) garden scarecrow and the sitting scarecrow probably are not for beginners. The scarecrow made from a "T" form (the witch) would be easiest for a beginner to make. Second, I do not have detailed instructions, I just pictured the sitting scarecrow in my head and started cutting wood and putting him together. Sorry about that. Many times (almost every time) I am so project focused that I do not take photos during the process and many projects are formulated in my head, scribbled on paper and then created. I may make another T form scarecrow this year and promise to take more photos and write down the directions a little better. Thanks for the insight,


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